They have been especially fierce within feminism. After a brief flirtation with postmodern thinking in the s, mainstream feminist circles seem to have turned their back on the staple notions of The discussions about the ethical, political and human implications of the postmodernist condition have been raging for longer than most of us care to remember. After a brief flirtation with postmodern thinking in the s, mainstream feminist circles seem to have turned their back on the staple notions of poststructuralist philosophy. Metamorphoses takes stock of the situation and attempts to reset priorities within the poststructuralist feminist agenda. Metamorphoses also focuses on the implications of these theories for cultural criticism and a redefinition of politics. This highly original contribution to current debates is written for those who find changes and transformations challenging and necessary.
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Metamorphoses: towards a materialist theory of becoming. It was in Canberra Australia, in where she started her formative years at the Australian National University, having been awarded with the University medal in Phi- losophy and the University Tillyward Prize. Braidotti was a pioneer in the studies of European women and she has been considered a world reference in gender studies and critical theory.
Her research areas straddle the ields of continental philosophy and epistemology, combining feminist and gender theories and post-structuralist thought.
Bearing in mind that change is the only constant that deines the XXI century, this century entails the challenge of rethinking processes much more than concepts since the real question does not lie at knowing who we are but rather who we want to become. In order to accomplish this, it becomes hence paramount to explore new igurations, alternative representations and social locations for this nomadic, hybrid subject who is always already involved in a process of becoming. Inluenced by the French-rooted tradition of philosophy, born in the XVIII century, and developed by authors such as Bachelar, Canguilhem, Foucault, Lacan, lrigaray and Deleuze - the latter prioritizing an erotic imaginary of sexuality and desire - Braidotti zigzags through a complexity of concepts such as: embodiment, immanence, sexual diference, rhizome, memory, permanence and sustainability.
She warns her readers that they should not con- sider the perceptions derived from these concepts as irrevocable truths.
United Kingdom: Polity Press. The feminist subject is no longer, as heretofore, the mirror of men but a sex- ualized, enleshed subject who is multilayered, multifarious and rhizomatic, fully aware of inequalities and committed to asserting and airming diversity and diference as posi- tive and alternative values. The new igurations of feminist subjectivity, conscious of their enleshed and embodied locations go beyond the metaphors which attempt to represent women as agency-driven subjects, institutional elements, signs and symbols of a domi- nant and conceptual discourse of power.
This politics of location, as she argues, imply a process of consciousness, which entails a political awakening. They will difer from the classical metaphors since they express materially inscribed cartographies within the subject and in that sense they will prepare the ground for a self- relexive exercise, which replaces the parasitical relation that had hitherto informed the process of metaphorization of the others.
Drawing upon the post-structuralist work of philosophers of diference like Foucault, Irigaray and Deleuze, Braidotti focuses upon the material and sexualized structure of the subject, which is intimately enmeshed in social and political relations. Sexuality, being envisioned as a social and symbolic institution, oftentimes material and semiotic, becomes the main location of power, according to a complex dynamic which encompasses micro and macro relations.
Bearing in mind the dualist model, sex constitutes the socially and morphologically allocation of identity and the erotic form that beits the socialized subjects whereas gender is a generic term which can describe the type of mechanism that partakes of a complex interaction of forces within a polarized, dualist system.
Hence, Braidotti recognizes the importance of the sensitive, afective transcendental which positions the enleshed feminine subject in an in-between locus of transcendence and immanence, thus interconnecting this subject with a multiplicity of diferences within itself and in relation to others. Helena Ferreira mark of alterity as in classical philosophy.
In the light of this view, the subject is endowed with multiple sexualities. Deleuze was one of the greatest creators of alternative and post- metaphysical igurations of the subject: bodies without organs, becoming, rhizome. His central iguration is the minoritarian becoming: the nomadic, the molecular, the becom- ing-woman, taking up a space of dynamic marginality inasmuch as it traces quick, tra- jectories that decentralize male subjectivity, that of the occidental macho, pushing it into peripheral positions.
This process generates met r morphoses which point to multiplicity and plurality and, at the same time, establishes a relationship between pre-natal connections among non-unitary subjects. The met r morphosis empowers luidity and lows. The illusion that there is a path of truth or only a center of resistance is thus replaced by a long process of learning to experiment on possible, sometimes very small, transformations through endless repetitions that will rather secure and assert the constant lux of met r morphoses.
The minority becoming, molecular, women does not constitute an end in itself but rather a highly diferentiated, turbulent space of multiple and dissymmetrical becomings. Braidotti pits this example against the main character in La Passion According to G. Helena Ferreira within her.
The last word, according to Braidotti, over the radical transformation of women, over the process of becoming-women, becoming-insect, may stem from the practice of sexual diference as a conceptual and political project whereby the nucleus or the core of these transforming practices are thus the met r amorphoses.
She also concludes that the interlocking of bios-zoe and technos which lies at the heart of cyber-teratologies of late post-modernity is tantamount to the creation of new igurations of political subjectivities aiming at an uncertain and destabilized imaginary, troubled by great changes and variations.
In the last two chapters, Braidotti casts some light on some aspects of contempo- rary culture, which have become particularly recurrent and popular.
These stem from a fascination for technology and biotechnology, the gothic and the monstrous, which quite often appear, tied up with social representations of symbolic cultural phenomena. At the beginning of chapter four, Braidotti recalls the purposes she had set up at the begin- ning, reinforcing the igurations which evoke the changes and transformations which are ongoing in the g.
As she argues, the nomadic or rhizomatic mode in critical theory aims to account for processes, not ixed points. As far as diference is concerned, she advocates that it is both a problem and a solution, which can be interpreted according to the language of monstrosity inasmuch as one attempts to ind itting cultural illustrations, which may translate the changes and transformations happening at present time.
Thus, one should turn to minor genres, the marginal and the hybrid such as the science iction, the horror and the cyber punk. Braidotti defends that, by resisting the undiferentiated sexual position, one values the processes of changes and transfor- mation as ways of actualizing a virtual cultural feminine in a network of interconnections with other forces, entities and actors. This open, multi-layered feminine is deined as met r amorphoses, as has been referenced.
In the ifth chapter Braidotti poses a fundamental question, that of cyber-technology. The contemporary cyber-technological imaginary expresses simultaneously two contradictory political tendencies. Helena Ferreira certainties are collapsing and crumbling. As an airmative and empowering gesture, it expresses the political passions of the entire minority inscribed subjects who have opted for the transformative policies and the processes of becoming.
Since the XIX century the Western culture has been faced with the threat and promises of meta l morphoses, that is to say the generic becoming-machine and presently the process of subject trans- formation follows the same path. Through met r amorphoses or meta l morphoses, a monstrous hybrid, and yet beautiful , subject comes into being, one who looks, feels and dreams in an uncommon way.
Far from being a catastrophe it opens new forms of life and new forms of cohabitation between humans and Others. Braidotti thus recommends that we adopt a nomadic approach because if we low we are indeed rooted. At the present time, she is a PhD student in Cultural Studies, which is a doctoral program between the University of Aveiro and the University of Minho. She has published several articles and conducted communications, mostly in partnership with others, in communication subject area.
E-mail: hcarla ua.
“Becoming Woman: or Sexual Difference Revisited”
Subjectivity is, for Braidotti, always already in motion and bodies and spaces are materialised in the act of becoming different or strange. Braidotti thus prepares a conceptual space where the de-essentialised subject of Western deconstructivist thinking can take pleasure from and explore the possibilities of social construction and material being. These singularities are, however, not singular stand- alone concepts, nor is the subjective space plane. Although Braidotti shares a conception of gender constructivity with certain third wave feminist philosophies, she differentiates her viewpoint from less materialist feminist thought, such as is formulated in the early work of Judith Butler. Braidotti argues that there are certain socially constructed identity-shaping loci of becoming, but these are cartographical points within inter-, trans- or internal materialising processes rather than external impositions. In other words, changes hurt and transformations are painful; this does not mean that they are deprived of positive and even pleasurable side- effects, of course. It is a collectively shared and constructed, jointly occupied spatio-temporal territory.
Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming
Posted on January 29, by zjb Reading Rosi Braidotti sometimes feels like reading comic books, or science-fiction. Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming is no exception. The book is like a dare. But in our own advanced technological age, the tables turn. Behind the delirious play in Metamorphoses is the seriousness with which Braidotti takes images and the imagination. Combining frameworks drawn from Irigaray and Deleuze, concepts and aesthetics are made to work hand in hand.